Sunday, June 24, 2007

Approaching Grantgivers: How to Write It, How to Sell It!

In the workshop led by charismatic Sheryl Abshire, sweat drippin' off me just like perspiration, since I took the wrong turn in my walk here, walked around the longest block in Atlanta, and ended up running part of the way in the already hot Georgia morning. Sheesh.

Sitting in a room with ten white linen-draped tables each populated by four or five teachers or administrators so interested in learning how to get some of the millions and millions of available grant dollars that they got up early on Sunday a.m. to come to this three hour seminar/workshop (heck I already told you I ran here) and I'm going to bullet some points as Sheryl talks:

  • collaborate when you write grants--there's power in collaborative thinking

  • think strategically and intentionally

  • bring people into the process who have expertise in the field

  • her district just got the million dollar Teaching History grant from the USDE

  • review the literature and identify funders--this is hard but it's the easiest thing you'll do

  • weave in a reference to successful research and or grant in the same field

  • be a grant reader -- you can volunteer to read grants for local, state, or corporate grant-givers (the insight you will gain will make you an immeasurably better writer as well as help you find funders most likely to fund your project)

  • often your grant doesn't have to be the best--if there are 20 to be awarded you're fine being the 20th best

  • analyze the RFP (Request for Proposal) carefully

  • follow format for submissions precisely -- if the RFP says 500 words, a proposal with 501 will be tossed out summarily, as will a .9 inch margin when a 1 inch margine is required

  • get clarification if you need it (and if you don't--you're calling to chat people up makes you familiar to the grant-givers: Find someone who will talk to you!)
  • Bubbles (Sheryl passed out bubbles and had the attendees blow them to illustrate how the grant-writers see the "roomful of grant applications" and emphasize that yours needs to be differentiated by precision and mission
  • Clearly state who is applying (144 3rd and 4th graders at an independent K12 school and their collaborating students, 200 5th graders in Kobe, Japan)
  • Cite prior successes, reframe earlier or ongoing projects
  • Give the grant to a non-educator to ensure that it's jargon-free
  • FUNDERS FUND GRANTS THAT ARE NEEDY BUT NOT DESPERATE--They will fund grants that they think have a chance for success and if you are hopeless and helpless the response is "I can't help them..."
  • Your Needs Statement is precise and to the point, directly relates to the priorities of the district/school as well as those of the funders, is stated in terms of the student/staff to be helped (not the grant-writers'), makes no assumptions, and makes a compelling argument (the art of it)
  • Objectives are clear statements of the outcomes expected--great description of the importance of connecting budget to objectives--readers color-code each objective and match budget items to each one and there had better be a balance and no objectives unmatched by a proportionate amount of budget items
  • The budget is very specific
  • If you include people in your grant be VERY careful--increases in health care, salary increases, etc. can well lose you staff mid-stream due to lack of research up front--check with your payroll person, etc.
  • If your grand does not get funded do not give up, ask for readers' comments or ask for someone to call
  • Look for rubrik and give it to your pre-reader to score it--you may have to ask for it
  • You will never get a grant if you don't keep writing it

Notes for me:

issues--develop higher order thinking skills, improve access to technology for solving curriculum-based problems, Adult education--does it exist? are its methods the latest?, staff development,

(This post is currently in process--stay tuned)

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